Ivan Toney scored a hat-trick as Brentford ended an eight-game Premier League winless run at the expense of relegation-threatened Norwich City.
Toney scored two second-half penalties at Carrow Road to put the game beyond bottom-side Norwich, as Thomas Frank’s side moved six points clear of the relegation places.
Following his emotional return as a substitute last weekend – 259 days after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 in June – Christian Eriksen made his first competitive start for Brentford.
It was from an Eriksen corner that Brentford punished the hosts’ first-half profligacy, with Kristoffer Ajer’s near-post header falling to Toney.
Toney’s first spot-kick arrived after 52 minutes as referee Anthony Taylor reviewed a high foot by Ben Gibson on Pontus Jansson as the Norwich defender attempted to clear a cross.
A second penalty in six minutes, awarded after Toney was felled by Gibson, allowed the 25-year-old to complete his treble.
The damage had already been done when Milot Rashica had a response ruled out for offside midway through the second half, while Bryan Mbeumo was denied adding a fourth for Brentford for the same reason.
Teemu Pukki gave the home fans something to cheer in added-time but an otherwise miserable day for Norwich left the Canaries five points from safety with 11 games remaining.
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Eriksen inspires Brentford on full return
Seven days on from his long-awaited return to action, Eriksen was called upon from the start in another crucial fixture in Brentford’s bid to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
While Toney delivered the goals that secured a huge three points, the victory proved that the ability of former Tottenham player Eriksen to reignite Brentford’s season will go a long way to determining the Bees’ fate with 10 games remaining.
The Dane’s delivery to set up Toney’s 32nd-minute opener displayed Eriksen’s known quality from set-pieces, but in a contest with so much riding on it the midfielder offered a calming influence in possession.
He had more touches (66), made more passes (44) and more passes in the final third (16) than any team-mate as he played the entirety of the 98-minute contest.
Amid the pressures of the Premier League, there was time too for a touching moment. Eriksen, rightly, received a yellow card for bringing down Brandon Williams – but once the Norwich defender realised who had fouled him, he simply embraced his opponent.
On Eriksen’s performance, Brentford boss Frank said: “You could see it was a top delivery for the first goal. There were top passes where he tried to find his team-mates in behind. You can also see there’s more to come from him, which of course is a positive.”
On hat-trick scorer Toney, Frank added: “It is world-class. I have said this before but for me Ivan Toney is the best penalty taker in the world at this moment in time.”
Norwich boss Dean Smith labelled the meeting with his former club as a “must-not-lose” encounter and this dismal home defeat means time is quickly running out for his side.
Smith bemoaned the officiating at full-time but the fact is a fourth successive loss means the Canaries are five points adrift of 17th-placed Everton.
They were unable to capitalise on a purposeful start when Rashica was denied at close range by David Raya, and Billy Gilmour shot over from the rebound inside the opening two minutes.
Raya was again called upon to stop Pukki’s low strike finding the bottom corner before half-time, but Norwich capitulated in the second half as Toney twice got the better of Tim Krul from the spot despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts to put him off.
Pukki eventually converted one of the home side’s 15 attempts but it was a mere consolation for a side edging closer to relegation.
“It was a bad day at the office for the officials unfortunately, and we’ve also made some bad decisions in our penalty box,” said Smith.
“I can understand the disappointment of the supporters. We felt Brentford was a club we could catch and we’ve had that taken away from us today. Big moments went against us.”
Player of the match
with an average of 9.25
Squad number8Player nameGilmour
Squad number5Player nameHanley
Squad number3Player nameByram
Squad number46Player nameRowe
Squad number21Player nameWilliams
Squad number22Player namePukki
Squad number1Player nameKrul
Squad number23Player nameMcLean
Squad number17Player nameRashica
Squad number24Player nameSargent
Squad number16Player nameNormann
Squad number4Player nameGibson
Squad number2Player nameAarons
Squad number20Player nameLees-Melou
Squad number21Player nameEriksen
Squad number17Player nameToney
Squad number30Player nameRoerslev
Squad number11Player nameWissa
Squad number1Player nameRaya
Squad number6Player nameNørgaard
Squad number18Player nameJansson
Squad number19Player nameMbeumo
Squad number20Player nameAjer
Squad number15Player nameOnyeka
Squad number7Player nameCanós
Squad number5Player namePinnock
Squad number3Player nameHenry
Squad number27Player nameJanelt
- 5HanleyBooked at 79mins
- 4GibsonBooked at 51mins
- 21WilliamsSubstituted forAaronsat 81′minutes
- 8GilmourSubstituted forRoweat 74′minutes
- 16NormannSubstituted forLees-Melouat 81′minutes
- 20AjerBooked at 24minsSubstituted forRoerslevat 75′minutesBooked at 89mins
- 18JanssonBooked at 79mins
- 19MbeumoBooked at 90mins
- 6NørgaardSubstituted forOnyekaat 59′minutes
- 21EriksenBooked at 40mins
- 7CanósSubstituted forWissaat 82′minutes
- 22M Jorgensen
- 29Bech Sørensen
- Anthony Taylor
Match ends, Norwich City 1, Brentford 3.
Second Half ends, Norwich City 1, Brentford 3.
Attempt missed. Joshua Sargent (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Attempt blocked. Sam Byram (Norwich City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Foul by Max Aarons (Norwich City).
Ivan Toney (Brentford) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Goal! Norwich City 1, Brentford 3. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jonathan Rowe.
Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt blocked. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jonathan Rowe.
Mads Roerslev (Brentford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jonathan Rowe (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mads Roerslev (Brentford).
Offside, Brentford. Bryan Mbeumo tries a through ball, but Ivan Toney is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Pierre Lees-Melou (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Milot Rashica.
Pierre Lees-Melou (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Frank Onyeka (Brentford).
Jonathan Rowe (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Mads Roerslev (Brentford).
Substitution, Brentford. Yoane Wissa replaces Sergi Canós.
Substitution, Norwich City. Pierre Lees-Melou replaces Mathias Normann.
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